Defining fish nursery habitats: an application of otolith elemental fingerprinting in Tampa Bay, Florida

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Abstract

Fishing in Tampa Bay enhances the quality of life of the area's residents and visitors. However, people's desire to settle along the Bay's shorelines and tributaries has been detrimental to the very habitat believed to be crucial to prime target fishery species. Common snook (Centropomus undecimalis) and red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) are part of the suite of estuarine fishes that 1) are economically or ecologically prominent, and 2) have complex life cycles involving movement between open coastal waters and estuarine nursery habitats, including nursery habitats that are located within upstream, low-salinity portions of the Bay?s tidal tributaries. We are using an emerging microchemical technique -- elemental fingerprinting of fish otoliths -- to determine the degree to which specific estuarine locations contribute to adult fished populations in Tampa Bay. In ongoing monitoring surveys, over 1,000 young-of-the-year common snook and red drum have already been collected from selected Tampa Bay tributaries. Using laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma - mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), we are currently processing a subsample of these archived otoliths to identify location-specific fingerprints based on elemental microchemistry. We will then analyze older fish from the local fishery in order to match them to their probable nursery areas, as defined by young-of-the-year otoliths. We expect to find that some particularly favorable nursery locations contribute disproportionately to the fished population. In contrast, other nursery areas may be degraded, or act as 'sinks', thereby decreasing their contribution to the fish population. Habitat managers can direct strategic efforts to protect any nursery locations that are found to be of prime importance in contributing to adult stocks.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Defining fish nursery habitats: an application of otolith elemental fingerprinting in Tampa Bay, Florida
Year Published 2009
Language English
Publisher Tampa Bay Estuary Program
Contributing office(s) Southeast Ecological Science Center
Description 15 p.
Larger Work Type Conference Paper
Larger Work Title Proceedings of the Fifth Tampa Bay Area Scientific Information Symposium Basis 5
First page 331
Last page 346
Conference Title Fifth Tampa Bay Area Scientific Information Symposium Basis 5
Conference Date October 20-23 2009
Country United States
State Florida
Other Geospatial Tampa Bay estuary
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N